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Unplug and ‘connect’ the good old way

We need some regulations and rules for gadget use, with adults and children in a family treated on a par

e live in a technologically advanced world, with unique gadgets and devices to help us in our everyday ordeals. From the self-driving car to get us through traffic in a breeze, to automated toilet seats that help us clean ourselves without so much as a drop of water on our hands. Oh! And how can I forget the elegant laptops and sleek phones that constantly annoy us but also occupy us with their Facebook and WhatsApp notifications?

Truly, we are a generation that is pampered to excess, and one that knows only a life in luxury. But has it ever crossed our minds that maybe these so-called “necessities” need some regulation and rules of use?

The latest Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation technology survey in the United States (“Generation M2: media in the lives of eight-to 18-year-olds”) says that the average school-going child on a typical day devotes seven hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media — that is more than 53 hours a week. And because they spend so much of that time “media multitasking”, that is, using more than one medium at a time, they pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7.38 hours. That’s more than five hours over the safe limit of two hours.

Nielsen statistics from 2011 tell us the average teen sends some 3,700 text messages a month. This not only involves a financial burden for the family but also takes away a lot of the quality time that could be spent on other productive activities. It is no surprise that some parents are forced to wield the iron fist to get households in good shape.

It is a common practice nowadays in households for parents to “ration out” device use for specific time limits. Be it to encourage studying, get some fresh air, get the family together, or just stop burning the eyes out of their sockets, every child’s folks do enforce a certain kind of “law and order” for device use. The most common of these rules is the establishment of a time limit (normally for two to three hours a day), along with return deadlines — that sorrowful time of the day we have to turn in our loyal friends and go to sleep. There are also those families that prevent the use of any device during the dreaded weekdays. Some take such extreme measures as removing or disconnecting the gadgets. In all fairness, this does seem to be a justifiable act. Parents are the guardians and caretakers of their children. They are the only ones who stand by them through all their ordeals and are there to taste sweet victory when achievements are made. So it is only right for them to advise and maybe even force the children to do what is right, often against their wishes. They do this for overall benefit.

But there is a catch. Although it is often casually stated that children are the ones who waste all their time on these “idiotic devices”, parents and adults actually play the game hand in hand. There are the bored moms wasting their time on Facebook, and fathers spending any and all time on his impossibly urgent conference-calls. To be honest, though children may waste time, such waste may have fewer consequences than that of parents doing the same. A parent who does not have the time to spend with his children, even if it be to earn a living and pay the rent, leaves the child in a lost and downwardly spiralling environment. And hence, the rules of usage should be applicable to all in a household, even the all-powerful mums and dads.

A wise man once said that in the right proportions anything is agreeable but in harmful excess even God is answerable. Truly, just like any other public law the laws in a family, especially those relating to the control and regulation of technological addictions, have to be diligently followed by every member. This helps create an environment of mutual understanding in which everybody gains, and development is well within grasp.

nikhilmseb@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 6:50:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Unplug-and-%E2%80%98connect%E2%80%99-the-good-old-way/article14179897.ece

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